History recognizes Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) as India’s “Father of the Nation”.
But he has been the “Father of Change” throughout the world.
Peaceful freedom campaigners such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Tibet’s Dalai Lama owe much to this great man.
I am pictured visiting the Gandhi Ashram in Gujarat
In my own generation it was our opposition to the Vietnam War that led us to study Gandhi and his methods of non-violent protest. In this way he inspired young people in the 1960’s in Australia, USA, Canada and more.
I especially love his message encouraging tolerance: “As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it”. He said: “The golden rule is to test everything in the light of reason and experience, no matter from where it comes.”
Some more Gandhi messages for specific sectors:
Communities: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”.
Leadership: “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
Careers: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Business: “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
Innovation: “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
Education: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
In our ever-busy lives, Gandhi is a role model in taking time out for the simple things. I saw this in bustling Mumbai at Mani Bhavan (Gandhi House), a three storey home with shuttered windows, a residence that Mahatma Gandhi was able to use. His room is simply furnished, austere. He would sit and read, spin cotton or talk to friends. It was his quiet time.
This was indeed the man who said there was enough in the world for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.
No surprise then that Gandhi’s core approach to life was “You must be the change you want to see in the world”, a message very alive today as we seek to enhance our tolerant, multicultural communities.